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Consumer Rights: A New Tenants' Rights Law Showcases California's Commitment to Its Consumers

Thursday, July 13, 2017

California continues to shine as a model of consumer protection, especially in terms of rules targeting the landlord-tenant relationship. This article focuses on a specific aspect of consumer rights, the rights of California tenants, following a new law effective January 1, 2017.

Assembly Bill 551, entitled "Rental property: bed bugs", clarifies the landlord's ongoing duty to provide a building fit for human occupation. The law now specifically prohibits a landlord from showing, renting, or leasing a vacant unit when the landlord is aware of a bed bug infestation adversely impacting that unit.

In addition, the new law places a duty on California landlords to provide a certain bed-bug related notice to tenants. As of July 1, 2017, the landlord must deliver the notice to the prospective tenant before creating the new lease. As of January 1, 2018, the landlord must provide the same notice to all tenants. The law details the language mandated with respect to the notice. In essence, that notice must include each of the following:

  • a detailed description of bed bugs, to better enable the tenant to identify such pests;
  • a detailed overview of the life cycle and reproduction habits of bed bugs; and,
  • details regarding the common signs and symptoms of a possible bed bug infestation, including what to look for on the linen and the appearance/effects of bed bug bites.

As a tenant, realize the landlord's bed-bug duties activate only following awareness of a possible infestation. Therefore, if you witness such an infestation, you must alert the landlord. "Paper trails" —notes written either during or soon after transactions— minimize confusion as regards who said what to whom when. The wise tenant not only promptly notifies the landlord, but also keeps all related notes in a single receptacle, such as a notebook. Those notes will likely prove quite valuable if your landlord ignores your alert.

Contact us if you confront a dilemma with your landlord. Our attorneys stand ready to assist in protecting your rights.




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